So let's talk about bodies.
Everyone is loving post-baby bodies nowadays. Even their own bodies at times. It's inspiring, There are some really beautiful sites that are trying to turn the tides of mom-body shaming.
When I first saw this, it really took me aback. Like ... whoa. I mean, look at her! The first thing you see is how strong she is. --Just kidding. The first thing you see is her stomach.-- That's ok. It is a very real stomach. But look at her arms. They seem so confident. And her legs too, like she isn't scared. She isn't shrinking away. The stretch marks on her right leg look tough. Kind of cool, even. I think that stretch marks remind us of what our bodies are capable of...and if we need the body to make room again, it can. It stands ready. She isn't hiding the marks, but she isn't putting anything on display either. You get the sense that her shoulders are perfectly poised and she is looking straight ahead.
After noticing all of this, I looked back at her stomach. It is actually quite strong. Her figure is so shapely. It occurred to me that if I had seen her fully dressed, I would have never known that she'd had kids. I might even be jealous of how fit she is. (I would definitely be jealous of how fit she is.)
So, thank you, Jade Beall, for bring these strong amazing bodies into the light.
And thank you to sites like the Shape of a Mother too. Beautiful stuff going on there.
But now why don't I love my own post-baby body?
I understand in a conceptual way that our bodies are beautiful and delightfully different and flawed and that the whole idea of "flaws" comes from a patriarchal hyper-commercialized standard of beauty that no one can attain. Except ... I still want to attain it. I do. Deep down inside I still kind of do.
Because we are teaching our daughters to be thin at all costs, and it is hurting them. Like, really hurting them. Watch this video, and you will feel it.
I will pause while you shutter. (That was goooood, right?)
This is so important. So much more important than making peace with our frumpy bodies that don't look quite right. My generation has a self-esteem issue, and we are passing it down to the next one.
If we allow this mindset to go on, we will create a generation of shrinking women full of self-hatred. It does not stop at the body. It probably does not start at the body either though.
And I think that is what I struggle with. It does not start with the body because the body hatred comes from the standards of beauty which come from the media which draw from the system. And when you start to think about it and unravel it, it just spirals out into the great beyond so far that I start to go cross-eyed and can't remember what I started talking about.
If I want to help my daughter love her body (which I do, because it's like, awesome and perfect just the way it is), then I can't do it simply by loving my own body. I also need to stop all the boys at school from teasing her. I need to control what we watch on TV and get away from the never-ending reel of fat jokes on every single goddamn channel. I also need to stop her friends and aunts and grandparents from talking badly about their own bodies. Because she loves them and looks up to them, and she looks like them!
If I want my daughter to love her body, I need to figure out how to make a peace with my own body. Do I need to love my own body? I'm not sure. I'm not convinced. It is a long, long journey from body hatred to body love. It is like, the length of 10 football fields and then some. How am I supposed to get there in the span of one lifetime, in the system that I have to live in too? I love looking at body-love websites. But as soon as I click away its all the same garbage on turbo speed: diet ads! Tummy minimizers! Look 30 lbs lighter in 30 days!!
So what is a girl to do...
I tell you what, universe. I will stop calling my body fat. In front of my daughter, in front of other women, in front of the mirror. I will stop grabbing at that weird pooch you left me with. I will try to remember that you made us delightfully different from some reason, even if that reason is dumb. (Can't I just look like Beyonce ONE TIME?! Then I promise I would be SO accepting of all body types.)
But I can't promise to love my post-baby body. I don't "love" it. I still feel kind of betrayed and frustrated. I'm not ready to make nice. Not just yet.
In the meantime, it will be my utmost duty to keep this a secret from my daughter. And who knows, maybe by the time she is old enough to ask me if I love my body, the answer will be Yes.